Monday, July 23, 2012

Maine Redux - Caribou Mountain

After the wonderful hike of Goose Eye and Carlo on Sunday we decided that we weren't going to miss the opportunity to go back to Maine.  We had been thinking about Caribou on Friday before we eventually settled on Imp Face.  After seeing Sabrina's pictures from her Caribou hike with Eric and the doggies on Friday we knew we had to get there.  The weather had been getting increasingly hot and muggy since we'd arrived the previous week and Monday was forecast to be even more so, with a high chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  We got going on the early side and made the quick drive into Evans Notch.  Being in Gorham makes getting to the trails in this area so easy!

The hike is a nice laid-back 7 mile loop with about 2100' of elevation.  The summit promised to be a long stretch of open ledge walking with 360 degree views.  A nice moderate route for our fourth straight day on the trails with a lot of reward for the effort.  We decided to do the loop counterclockwise, going up the Mud Brook Trail and down the Caribou Trail with the hope that the brook and waterfalls on the Caribou side would give us some places to cool off on the hot afternoon.  We set off on Mud Brook (which doesn't at all live up to its name) and found it to be another one of those nice Maine trails that we'd discovered the day before.  In all fairness it does start in New Hampshire (but the majority is in Maine).

Starting on the Mud Brook side

Looks like we found a friend

Handsome little guy!

Beautiful walk along the not-muddy Mud Brook

We soon crossed the wilderness boundary and began the slow steady climb up Caribou.

They're everywhere!

More nice Maine trails

As we approached the summit the views started to appear.

Pretty hazy today, but still great views

Nearing the summit

The final stretch up to the summit reminded me very much of some of our other favorite mountains with this kind of broad ledgy top (Cardigan, Monadnock and of course many of the mountains in Acadia).

Nice scramble up the ledges


Summit ledges

More Maine mountain vistas

Summit sidewalk

As we came over the top of the ledges we met a woman sitting alone having her lunch.  We struck up a conversation.  She said she was from the coast of Maine and Nat told her that her parents were both from Maine as well.  Her Dad is from Medomak and most people haven't heard of this tiny town and we generally say "and that's near...", but before she could finish the woman laughed and said "I know just where that is - I live in Waldoboro" (the next town over).  Once again, a very small world out there.  We chatted for a while and she said that her daughter had been supposed to hike with her that day but had decided to go fishing instead.  She didn't mind doing it alone though and said she'd hiked this mountain dozens of times over the years and that it was one of her favorites.  I definitely know why.  We ate our lunch together and then said our goodbyes.  She was doing the loop in the opposite direction.  We headed up to explore the rest of the summit.

My favorite kind of walking

Mountain cranberries

LOTS of cranberries

Skies starting to clear

On the true summit

On Caribou Mountain

Heading into the blue

We wandered around for a long time and finally decided that we needed to head down.  Some of the clouds in the west looked like they might hold thunderstorms and we didn't want to get caught.  Turned out that the storms never materialized - at least not until that night when we were safely in our tent.

A pretty visitor on the trail

Pyrola eliptica - Shinleaf

It was really hot and sticky once we were back in the woods and we were really hoping for a good place to cool down.  The brook follows near the trail for a good portion of it, and about half way down is Kees Falls, a 25 foot high waterfall the we hoped would be the perfect spot.  

Top of Kees Falls

Kees Falls.  That pool sure looks inviting!

When we got to the falls we stayed on the trail, which goes past it on the left.  There was no obvious path to the bottom and we tried scrambling down the very steep bank but only got about half way down.  While we were looking for a better route a young woman appeared at the top of the falls.  She said that it looked like there was a good path down on the other side and we scrambled back up the bank and went back around to join her.  We struck up a conversation and she asked where we were from.  When we said Rhode Island she smiled and said "oh, you must be the ones that were talking to my mother on the summit".  Too funny.  She said that the fish hadn't been biting and she'd decided to come out and hike instead.

We all agreed that the pool was too tempting to resist on a hot afternoon.  This was not a time for modesty - we all stripped to our skivvies and jumped in.  The pool was actually deep enough to dive in off the rocks and the water was freezing cold, but felt wonderful!  After getting out the first time we all had to jump in again!

There goes Nat!

So refreshing!

I'm next. Olympic form?


Nat's going again

We pulled our clothes back on and headed down the last mile or so feeling like new people.  The bottom section was another beautiful walk in the woods with wildflowers along the trails.  A really nice way to end the day.

False Violet

Following beautiful Morrison Brook home

Our second straight day of hiking in Maine had even more convinced us that this is somewhere we want to spend a LOT more time.  In less than two weeks we'll be heading to Baxter for the first time and will get to explore yet another part of it - one that we already know we'll love.  Now for this trip, if we can just get one more hike in before we go home...

Here's the trail map and some aerial views of the hike from Google Earth

Aerial view from the west

Aerial from the north.  Baldfaces and Presidentials beyond

From the south.  Mahoosucs beyond (Goose Eye and Carlo route highlighted)


  1. Mark, it has been great fun reading of your adventures in Maine and at Seek the Peek. Your tribute at STP to your friend was incredibly touching and just perfect! Love all the photos, too!

    1. Thanks Summerset. It was just a fantastic week. One more trip report still to write (4K #43) :-)

  2. Another great trip report, Mark. You're quite a good wildflower photographer and have opened my eyes the moreso to their beauty. The top of Caribou definitely is similar to Monadnock, very pretty.

    There's little better than hopping into a cold mountain stream towards the end of a hike on a hot summer day. Y'all picked an especially beautiful spot. Some day, I'd enjoy showing you the Taconics of NW Conn and SW Mass. Race Brook Falls Trail at the end of a Bear-Sages Ravine-Race hike would be a comparably special treat - one of my favorite spots.